A quote I posted on Tumblr broke through.
Quick explanation: Tumblr is a social media site, a lot like Facebook. Younger people (in their teens and 20s) make up the majority of Tumblr users. (Facebook’s demographic is older now: mostly 40s and 50s.) NCPR has a Tumblr account and I use it to share a lot of NCPR’s photos and stories. I also post other stuff: things I find interesting and help define the station’s personality.
Often, the things I post are re-blogged (similar to a “like” on Facebook or re-tweet on Twitter), meaning someone liked what I posted and wants her/his readers to see it, too.
I recently posted this excerpt from the Thoreau essay Walking (written originally for the Atlantic):
We walked in so pure and bright a light, gilding the withered grass and leaves, so softly and serenely bright, I thought I had never bathed in such a golden flood, without a ripple or a murmur to it. The west side of every wood and rising ground gleamed like the boundary of Elysium, and the sun on our backs seemed like a gentle herdsman driving us home at evening.
-Henry David Throreau, on the 195th anniversary of his birth
That was the whole post. And it didn’t get re-blogged by a lot of people (I didn’t expect it to), but one of them was an 18-year-old whose Tumblr page is filled with pictures or video of puppies and movie stars.
Actually, almost every post on her page is visual, not verbal. And this is pretty common among Tumblr users, especially the younger set.
But she re-blogged Thoreau. I consider this a (very) minor achievement, simply because a writer I love – whose work was inspired by the nature of a very different world eight generations ago – resonated with a young woman emblematic of our current tech-y, multi-tasking culture.
No matter what else happens today, I know that Thoreau has a place next to the Avengers, puppies and well-coiffed celebrities in the mind of a young person.
Like I said, it’s a very small thing, but it’s worth noting. Partly because it’s worth building on.
If young people can appreciate the writings of Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Mary Hunter Austin, they can appreciate what these authors were writing about, which is nature.
And if young people can appreciate nature, we’ll all be better off.
It might be only a germ of a hope, but lots of our best hopes – and greatest accomplishments – started this small.